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Measurable results through active energy management

Optimisation with a vision

Today, Pfeifer covers 80 percent of its own energy demands with the help of renewable energies. But that's not all: Especially in such an energy-intensive one as the timber industry, it is important to use energy as efficiently as possible or to save it altogether. This is the responsibility of the Energy and Environmental Management Department, which is part of the Power Plants/Energy and Environmental Management staff unit headed by Yüksel Kodaman.

What's indispensable so that production never comes to a standstill? The latest technology? Manpower? The correct answer is: Heat and power. Nothing works without energy, in the truest sense of the word. But energy is expensive and pollutes the environment. That's why “optimisation potential” is a word that Bastian Schrems uses regularly. Responsible for energy management and the environment at Pfeifer, Schrems turns the knobs to minimise the environmental impact of production and maximise the added value per unit of energy consumed. This is an important task, because in times of climate change, global competition and advancing digitalisation, the areas of energy efficiency, sustainability and data-based optimisation are rapidly gaining in importance. With its Green Deal, the EU has already set the course for sustainability and thus presents companies with some risks – and many more opportunities – in the coming years. In order to be at the forefront in this context, Pfeifer is already involved in energy efficiency networks and association groups. For example, the Unterbernbach location has been participating in the EnBW Energy Efficiency Bavaria 4.0 network since 1 January 2018, contributing to the achievement of Germany's and Europe's climate and energy policy goals.

The value chain is deliberately kept closed with 100 per cent processing of round timber on site.

Energy efficiency top on the list of priorities

From new investments to maintenance issues and process optimisation, Pfeifer involves its internal energy experts in all energy-relevant projects. “Optimisation has a high priority within the group,” says Bastian Schrems who is pleased about generous investment leeway to identify energy efficiency potential: “As an owner-managed family business, Pfeifer can and wants to embed sustainable investment policies in the company strategy. This is increasingly turning out to be a competitive advantage. After all, sustainability is also a feature that sets us apart.”

The most important result of this strategic orientation is integrated production at the company’s locations. This means that the value chain is deliberately kept closed with 100 per cent processing of round timber on site. The advantages of the zero-waste principle are clear: The company's own biomass cogeneration plants supply carbon neutral heat and electricity primarily for the company's own needs, but also feed it into the public supply network. Refining the wood into various wood products on site also reduces the number of truck trips coming from and going to the plants. Another signal representing sustainability in action is the promotion of rail transport. Four Pfeifer locations are already connected to (inter)national freight traffic via company tracks. In 2020/2021 Pfeifer has invested approx. 16 million Euros into Lauterbach's railway connection alone to secure the location in the long term. The volume of goods moved by freight trains and intermodal transport has been steadily increasing within the group for years, saving considerable amounts of carbon emissions.

Reaching the desired effect methodically

Using synergies wisely and transferring lessons learned from one location to the others is one of the secrets of Bastian Schrems' success. All Pfeifer locations in Germany are ISO 50001 certified (a globally valid standard of the International Organization for Standardization intended to support organisations and companies in establishing systematic energy management). The knowledge and experience gained from this process also benefit the Austrian and Czech locations. In energy audits, the benefits are transferred in a targeted manner, Schrems reports: “Through a systematic and uniform approach across all locations, we achieve a high degree of transparency and support the locations on their way to using energy even more efficiently and in a more environmentally friendly way.”

Using synergies wisely and transferring lessons learned from one location to the others is one of the secrets of Bastian Schrems' success. 

Bastian Schrems

obtained his diploma in Environmental Technology from the Technical University of Central Hesse and a Master's degree in Sustainable Energy Policy from Carleton University in Ottawa (Canada). After several years as an environmental manager at a large Swedish consumer goods company, he moved to Pfeifer in 2014 and has since contributed his know-how to the company as an energy manager and immission control officer. Since March 2020, Bastian Schrems has been fully dedicated to the areas of energy management and the environment as part of the Staff Unit for Power Plants, Energy and Environmental Management (Head: Yüksel Kodaman) and is responsible for all 8 Pfeifer Group locations in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. His motto: Show respect, but don't be afraid of the far-reaching changes that are coming.

Up to 70 % less energy loss

This approach is already bearing fruit. In Unterbernbach and Lauterbach, for example, a new technology is currently being implemented that has already had a resounding effect in Uelzen and could be optimised even further. It is capable of preventing up to 70 % of energy losses, i.e. effectively only 30 % energy is consumed compared to before. This optimisation of a single system alone saves Uelzen 3 gigawatt hours per year. And the energy expert identifies savings potential almost everywhere. This can involve seemingly simple measures such as regular machine maintenance, replacing certain components or the use of innovative technologies. It's a win-win situation for the environment and the company, as energy costs are the third-largest cost item in wood-processing companies. Identifying optimisation potential therefore remains a top priority at Pfeifer. And following the top-down principle, sustainability as a strategic corporate goal should also become even more firmly established in the minds of the workforce: “All departments and thus all employees are called upon to deal with energy and the environment responsibly – every day.”

A newly implemented technology can reduce up to 70 % of energy losses. This optimisation of a single system alone saves Uelzen 3 gigawatt hours annually.